Well, I was right and I was wrong at the same time.
After posting this morning that Prince Fielder would likely demand a contract of historic proportions in his final year of arbitration, news came today that Fielder avoided a hearing with a one-year, $15.5 million contract. Jon Heyman was the first to report the figures.
Of course, I also expected this process to drag on for weeks, not taken care of on the first day of figure swaps. This is certainly a welcomed surprise, though, as now the Brewers can focus in on a possible extension for Rickie Weeks (which Ken Rosenthal says isn’t very close to happening).
In addition to the $15.5 million in base salary, Fielder can earn $100K for winning MVP (or $75k for finishing second, $50k for third), $50K or $25K for making the All-Star team (depending on fan vote or being named as a reserve), $25K for LCS and/or World Series MVP, and perhaps most amusingly, $50K for winning a Gold Glove.
All in all, this is a very fair deal for both sides, and probably what the Brewers expected to pay for Fielder this year. I’m sure they were surprised as anyone that Fielder and Boras didn’t want to drag this out or take the case into a hearing, but Prince has always seemed like the type to want to get the contract stuff out of the way early.
As I noted this morning, Mark Teixeira previously held the record settlement for a player in their third year of arbitration eligibility. Fielder easily beats that old figure of $12.5 million, but I suppose it isn’t all that surprising when you consider the gradual rise in player salaries. It’s also more than the $15 million that Ryan Howard made last season in what would have been his third year of arbitration eligibility, but that salary was a part of a three-year deal he signed prior to the 2009 season. It’s also worth mentioning (as Tom Haudricourt did) that Fielder now becomes the highest-paid Brewer of all time, overtaking Zack Greinke, who has yet to actually play for the team. Prior to Greinke, Jeff Suppan earned that honor, so at the very least, we’re quickly erasing him from the Brewers’ record books.
Manny Parra also avoided arbitration today, signing a one-year, $1.2 million deal. I agree with Ryan Topp’s assessment at Bernie’s Crew that while there may be a bit of sticker shock there, that’s a very fair price if he can continue to pitch the way he has out of the bullpen. It’s worth noting that Carlos Villanueva got $1.4 million from Toronto to avoid arbitration, so the Brewers end up saving themselves some money by keeping Parra over Villanueva, if you prefer to look at it that way. And again, it’s important to remember that contracts reached to avoid arbitration are non-guaranteed, so if Parra flames out in Spring Training, he can but cut for a fraction of that $1.2 million.